Get the facts

Common myths about obstructive sleep apnea explained

Teofilo Lee-Chiong MD

Learn the facts from Teofilo Lee‑Chiong MD

Chief Medical Liaison, Philips Home Healthcare Solutions

How dangerous is OSA?

Snoring is simply a nuisance and does not have any medical consequences.

Snoring is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, which can have both short-term and long-term health consequences if left untreated.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a harmless medical condition.

Untreated OSA can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attack, stroke, and fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents. OSA can even be fatal if left untreated.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure

Heart disease

Heart disease

Heart attack

Heart attack





Who is really at risk?

Adults who have had a tonsillectomy during childhood do not develop obstructive sleep apnea.

Even if you have had a tonsillectomy, you can still develop obstructive sleep apnea as an adult.

I never sleep on my back and, therefore, I am unlikely to have obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can develop regardless of your sleeping positions.

Only obese, middle-aged men develop obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea affects men, women, and children of all body weights and ages.

1 out of 5

adults in the US have at least mild obstructive sleep apnea*

1 of 5

*Young T, et al. Epidemiology of obstructive sleep apnea: a population health perspective. AJRCCM 2002;165:1217-1239.

How do I get diagnosed?

A simple nighttime measurement of oxygen in the blood system is sufficient to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea.

Diagnosing sleep apnea also requires measurements of brain activity, breathing, limb and muscle movement, and sound.

Going to a sleep lab is the only way to be diagnosed for sleep apnea.

Portable sleep-testing technology may allow for in-home diagnosis, depending on your health condition and insurance coverage

I don’t think I will be comfortable sleeping in a sleep lab.

Though many people have this fear, most are able to fall asleep in the sleep lab.

Sleep Study

Understanding CPAP masks

A full face CPAP mask is always preferred over a nasal mask.

Not necessarily. Full-face masks are associated with more mask leaks, higher device pressure requirements, and lower treatment compliance. Many people do well with a nasal mask if they do not breathe through their mouth. If they do, a nasal mask with a chin strap is an alternative solution.

Wearing a CPAP mask makes me look unattractive.

A recent study has shown that CPAP users look more attractive than those who are untreated. A good night’s sleep in the same room as your partner may be worth the mask.

One mask fits all.

Everyone’s face is unique. It’s important to find the mask that fits and works for you.


Understanding CPAP devices

Most people who have been prescribed CPAP devices do not use them.

Advances in masks, devices, and motivational aids can help those who struggle with therapy to become regular CPAP users.

It is hard to sleep with a CPAP machine because of the loud noises it makes.

New technological advancements now allow for much quieter CPAP machines.

All CPAP devices are alike.

CPAP devices have different features, including fixed or variable pressure, pressure relief technology, and humidification. Find what works best for you.


Understanding treatment

Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of testing for and treating OSA.

Most insurance companies do cover these costs. Check with your insurance provider to learn more about your coverage.

CPAP users will die immediately if a power failure occurs

Absolutely not! All masks are designed to allow you to breathe room air if your device stops working.

I am too old to start CPAP therapy.

You’re never too old to start enjoying the benefits of treating your sleep apnea.

Oxygen therapy is as effective as CPAP for people with obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s not. Unlike oxygen therapy, CPAP addresses pauses in breathing. In some cases, oxygen therapy may be prescribed in combination with CPAP.

Drinking alcohol at bedtime helps me sleep better

Alcohol might help you fall asleep quicker, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM), an important stage of your sleep. It can also worsen sleep apnea symptoms.

Losing weight alone will treat my obstructive sleep apnea.

It may help, but since obesity is not the only cause of sleep apnea, you may require CPAP therapy regardless of your weight.